Originally written for The Northern Light.
During the winter season, it’s not uncommon to see fat tire bicyclists riding along the roads of Anchorage. With the collaboration of Off the Chain and Bike Anchorage, these nonprofit organizations are having a “Winter Bike Jam” on Spenard to wrap up the month of February.
In 1999, there was a proposition to reconstruct Spenard Road between Hillcrest Drive and 30th Ave. due to a recurring pattern of sideswipe accidents, according to Spenard Road Reconstruction.
In the summer of 2017, the Spenard Road Reconstruction project was set into the works of redesigning its layout with 8-foot wide sidewalk expansions and 5-foot bike lanes to both sides of the road, according to John Smith, the municipal project manager.
Local businesses had opposed the idea because it would disrupt traffic flow and inconvenience customers from gaining access to their businesses.
However, others believe the reconstruction of the Spenard Road will allow cyclists to ride more safely.
“Part of the reason we’re doing the bike jam is to show that we’re excited about [the] Spenard road becoming a more bikeable, more pedestrian friendly, more walkable place. It’s kind of a party to bring all the cyclists out there to celebrate the bike culture and the improvements of Spenard and future improvements on the rest of Spenard,” Pierce Schwalb, director of Bike Anchorage, said.
Off the Chain and Bike Anchorage have been advocating for sustainability of bicycling for a while now. Off the Chain is a community bicycling collective that serves the purpose of learning and repairing bikes.
“We have open shop hours three times a week where we help the community fix their bikes and re-home used bikes. We also occasionally do classes, host field trips, do on-site tune-ups and special events,” Holly Hill, volunteer and president of Off the Chain, said.
Off the Chain brings the bike community together for knowledge about bikes and how to repair them, and Bike Anchorage also provides programs for all ages.
“Our mission is to get as many people on bikes as much as possible. We do a lot of events throughout the year to promote that. We help organize summer bike to work day, winter bike to work day, winter bike-fest of February, and a bunch of smaller events [like] community rides. Lots of stuff like that to get people out and feel comfortable to show that there’s a dedicated community of fellow bicyclers to join in on,” Schwalb said.
The “Winter Bike Jam” event is a slow social bike ride that will have live music playing while riding along the roads of Spenard. The jam will start at Off the Chain on W. 33rd Ave. and end at The Writer’s Block Bookstore and Café on Spenard Road.
The event will take place on Feb. 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more details, visit their Facebook page.